My Mentor: Adam Boulton on Leslie Stone
'He didn't think you had to spend 10 years covering village fêtes before getting a break'
Monday 07 March 2005
When I came back to London after university in 1981, my father insisted I was going to be unemployed for the rest of my life, and told me to sign on at the dole centre. But by the time I arranged my first interview, Leslie had hired me on a temporary basis at Central Current Affairs Talks at the BBC. I had been rejected by all the graduate-trainee schemes and this bald, moon-faced man, who was head at the time, was the only person to give me a chance.
Let's be clear about this. When I went to work for him I had no idea how to write, let alone how to write for radio. But that was what he did, he used his position to give people their break. He wasn't interested in where people were institutionally or where they went to school, and was the complete reverse of this idea that you have to spend 10 years covering village fêtes before you get your opportunity. All he wanted to know was if I knew about America, if I was interested in it, and if so to get on and write.
At the time Leslie was very sceptical about everything going on at the BBC and was a sort of authorised dissident, able to deflate his bosses with one remark out of the side of his mouth. Also, in corporate politics he was his own worst enemy and I think I've learnt to be slightly more diplomatic as a result.
But aside from that, he was a tremendously intelligent man who knew everything from Arsenal football club to Californian wine.
As a boss, I found him fantastically motivational because when he gave you a job, he left you in no doubt whatsoever that he thought you could do it. He boosted your confidence, but at the same time he was never a man to stand on ceremony; if you had missed the point, he would cut straight to the chase. The mentoring role really developed after I stopped working for Leslie. Throughout my career and right up until he died I would visit him regularly, and every time he would always be right on the button. He was a very supportive man, not in a gushing or paternalistic manner.
Adam Boulton is the political editor of Sky News
Husband and wife die holding hands within hours of each other after 67 years of marriage
What color is The Dress, white and gold or blue and black? An eyewitness gives a definitive answer
Gary Glitter sentenced to 16 years in jail for historic sex attacks on schoolgirls
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Madonna claims jokes about her age tantamount to racism: 'No one would dare to say a degrading remark about being black'
- 1 The black and blue dress: Makers considering a white and gold version
- 2 Husband and wife die holding hands within hours of each other after 67 years of marriage
- 3 What color is The Dress, white and gold or blue and black? An eyewitness gives a definitive answer
- 4 The remarkable archaeological underwater discovery that could open up a new chapter in the study of European and British prehistory
- 5 Fearne Cotton quits Radio 1 after ten years for 'family and new adventures'
£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Junior Business Systems Analyst role...
£30-35k (P/T - Pro Rata) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienc...
£35000 - £45000 per annum + up to £45,000: Sauce Recruitment: The Internation...
£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A thriving online media busines...